Tactile Photography

“I guess it is common to think that the documented image is what is real in photography” notes Daisuke Yokota in an interview in 2014, “but by accentuating the materiality of the film, which by nature is more real than the documented image, it actually becomes more abstract, and I’m interested in this reversed perspective.”

The 2016 winner of the Foam Paul Huf Award gained recognition for Site/Cloud (2014), a monochromatic series depicting ethereal landscapes with subtle layers of alternation and distortion. More recently, Yokota embarks upon investigations into the tactile aspects of photography. Three installations at Foam, Amsterdam, revolve around this concept, featuring compositions which are not determined by the camera, but by experiments with the material forms of the medium. Whereas his previous practice involved revisiting past images, whereby they would be transformed through different analogue and digital processes, in Matter it is not the picture that is being reinvented, but rather the physical prints and film.

Each piece seeks to provide observers with new experiences of photography, the three large-scale environments undermine preconceived notions of the method and the process of print-making. In one space, Yokota projects the result of darkroom experiments with unorthodox developing processes onto the gallery walls, whereas another features an enlarged film roll. In a complex comment on an information-saturated society, the two-part scheme Matter/Burn and Matter/Vomit muses on the wealth of information available in this digital age. In the first stage, Yokota sets fire to installation prints at an abandoned construction site in China. The results of this destruction are captured, the images recycled into a new independent artwork which makes up the latter part of the project. This display of burnt matter reflects on the mass of visuals we are confronted with on a daily basis, and the increasingly desensitised way in which they are mechanically absorbed and disregarded. These manipulations provide evocative philosophical musings on the nature of photography in contemporary society.

Daisuke Yokota: Matter, Foam, Amsterdam, from 17 March – 4 June. www.foam.org

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1. Daisuke Yokota, Installation view from Aichi Triennale (2016). Courtesy of the artist and G/P Gallery.